Orioles managing general partner Peter Angelos met over the weekend with assistant general managers Frank Robinson and Doug Melvin, but he still has not announced where they will fit into the club's restructured front office.
Angelos has been pondering that decision for more than two weeks -- since the resignation of former club president Larry Lucchino left a gap in the chain of command. To that point, there had been no urgent need to choose between Robinson and Melvin, but the departure of Lucchino created a vacuum that is expected to pull general manager Roland Hemond up the organizational ladder and force Angelos into the difficult position of making Robinson or Melvin the new general manager.
Angelos could decide in the next few days but said yesterday that he will look carefully at the circumstances that created the organizational dilemma before making his next move.
"I certainly can say that both of them are most impressive," Angelos said. "I spent a number of hours getting to know them. It's obvious that they are both quite capable."
Angelos gave every indication at the time of Lucchino's resignation that he was leaning toward an alignment in which Hemond would become vice chairman in charge of baseball operations and Melvin would replace him as general manager, but Angelos likely has found that the Melvin/Robinson situation is far more complex than he originally believed.
Robinson apparently had assurances written into his 1988 managerial contract that he would be named assistant general manager when he returned to the front office. The Orioles made good on the title in 1991, but Melvin already had settled into the job. Both appear to have a legitimate claim to the promotion. Angelos is trying to find a way to make everybody happy, but it won't be easy.
"There might be some initial disappointment on the part of one or the other," he said, "but over the long run, I think the aspirations of both men can be realized."
Melvin has been considered the club's general manager in waiting since he was promoted to director of player personnel in 1987, but he said he received no assurances from Angelos during his meeting Saturday.
"He didn't make any promises," Melvin said. "He was interested in getting a history of our situation -- how this all came about. He said he would be getting back with us sometime this week."
Robinson said he was happy to have a hearing. He had been reading for weeks about the possibility that he would be the odd man out in the restructuring, so he wanted a chance to give an account of himself.
"He feels he has to make a decision," Robinson said. "I think now he has a better idea of what type of person I am and what I'm capable of doing."
Robinson has made no secret of his desire to be a general manager. That has been his focus since he returned to the Orioles' front office after managing the club from early in the 1988 season until he was replaced by Johnny Oates in May 1990.
He was named assistant GM three years after Melvin -- which created the dilemma that now faces Angelos -- but Robinson said he is disturbed by the notion that he is somehow responsible for the front-office logjam. He tried to clear that up during the meeting on Saturday.
"I tried to give him a view from my side of it," Robinson said. "I thought it was a good conversation. I thought we were able to clear up what went on before."
The late Edward Bennett Williams brought Robinson into the front office as special assistant to the president in 1987, then asked him to go back downstairs to manage the team in 1988. From that perspective, he said, he thinks he should not be viewed as a front-office newcomer who has complicated Melvin's progress through the organization.
Still, he apparently is not ready to say that he has to be the GM or else. Robinson said yesterday that he is waiting to see how the authority is delegated before drawing any conclusions about his future with the team.
"I'm keeping an open mind," he said. "I didn't draw any conclusions. I want to be right here. I'd like to finish my career in this organization. That's what I wanted as a player, but it didn't work out. When I came back in '85, I was hoping that I wouldn't leave again. I'm hoping to be a productive, working part of this organization until I retire."
NOTES: The Orioles have finalized arrangements for free agents Sid Fernandez and Will Clark to visit Baltimore this week. Fernandez will tour Camden Yards and meet with club officials tomorrow, and Clark will do the same Friday. No one is saying that either player is close to signing with the Orioles, but the club is taking great pains to paint an appealing picture of the team and the area. Talks also continue with free agent Rafael Palmeiro. He may visit Baltimore in the coming weeks, but he already is familiar with the area from several visits with the Texas Rangers. . . . The Los Angeles Dodgers are believed to be interested in 2B Harold Reynolds. The Dodgers made a big play for free agent Robby Thompson, but he re-signed with the San Francisco Giants.